Sunday, February 26, 2012

Profile Playlist: Johnny Cash (1932-2003)

Personal Note: Johnny Cash. Singer. Songwriter. Outlaw. Man of God. Man in Black. Johnny represents the rebel, the prodigal and the poet. So many contradictions but yet completely part of the human experience.

My first hearing of Johnny Cash quite possibly came from my grandmother Gertrude watching him perform on one of his TV specials but I couldn’t tell you no more about it than just seeing some guy with a black hair and a guitar singing country songs and, as a child, not really connecting with him. The next time I heard him I was definitely listening. I heard a version of his Man in Black song revised as speed metal with a group called One Bad Pig. OK. That was different.

The next time I can recall would cement his place as the voice of rebel, prodigal and poet in my life: I was just getting into the music of U2 in the early 90’s and picked up their Zooropa album. The last track featured Johnny Cash singing the song “The Wanderer”. To this day that song still means so much to me. It represents everything: strength, fear and anticipation. But, even with that song, I still wasn’t listening like I should have…not quite yet. The next Johnny Cash song I came across that I can recall is “Ring of Fire” being played in the movie, “U-Turn”. I liked it, thought it was cool…but still not listening, not really getting the core of his art, his message.

In 2002, While working at a music entertainment store, a video is played on our monitor. It is Johnny Cash. The song is a remake of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”. I was blown away. The music, Johnny Cash, whose voice, now more raspier than ever, still delivered deeper truths, and the scenes throughout his career in film and pictures and with his wife June, would have most people who watch it realize just how mortal we truly are. It made me look within and made me realize that all this time, I had not been truly listening. He had finally got my attention.

I’ve been a committed fan ever since. When it was announced that a movie was being made about his life called “Walk The Line”, I was determined to be there opening day no matter what. Personally, it was a great last few months of the 2005: The Chicago White Sox had won the World Series, The Chronicles of Narnia was to debut that winter and “Walk The Line” was being released.

Listed below is a bio and my favorite songs by Johnny Cash, whose faith and human contradictions fueled his passion and create some of the world’s greatest music.


BIO: John R. "Johnny" Cash (February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003), A.K.A. "The Man In Black", was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Although he is primarily remembered as a country music artist, his songs and sound spanned many other genres including rockabilly and rock and roll—especially early in his career—as well as blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal led to Cash being inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Late in his career, Cash covered songs by several rock artists.

Cash was known for his deep, distinctive bass-baritone voice; for the "boom-chicka-boom" sound of his Tennessee Three backing band; for his rebelliousness, coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor; for providing free concerts inside prison walls; and for his dark performance clothing, which earned him the nickname "The Man in Black". He traditionally started his concerts by saying, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." and usually following it up with his standard "Folsom Prison Blues."

Much of Cash's music, especially that of his later career, echoed themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption. His signature songs include "I Walk the Line", "Folsom Prison Blues", "Ring of Fire", "Get Rhythm" and "Man in Black". He also recorded humorous numbers, including "One Piece at a Time" and "A Boy Named Sue"; a duet with his future wife, June Carter, called "Jackson"; as well as railroad songs including "Hey, Porter" and "Rock Island Line".

Cash, a troubled but devout Christian, has been characterized as a "lens through which to view American contradictions and challenges." A Biblical scholar, he penned a Christian novel titled Man in White, and he made a spoken word recording of the entire New King James Version of the New Testament. Even so, Cash declared that he was "the biggest sinner of them all", and viewed himself overall as a complicated and contradictory man. Accordingly, Cash is said to have "contained multitudes", and has been deemed "the philosopher-prince of American country music".


Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire (written by June Carter)


Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson


Johnny Cash - Man in Black

Scenes cut from the BBC documentary 'Johnny Cash: The Last Great American'.


Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around


Johnny Cash – Hurt


Movie Trailer: Walk The Line (2005)

Walk The Line - Movie Trailer (2005)
The Story of Johnny Cash starring Joaquin Phoenix and
Reese Witherspoon


Movie Posters: Walk The Line - The Johnny Cash Biopic


CD Collection: The Legend - Johnny Cash 4-CD Set

The Legend is a box set by country singer Johnny Cash, (his 91st overal release) released in 2005 (see 2005 in music) on Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings. It is one of the few multi-disc sets that contain songs recorded throughout Cash's entire career, from 1955 to 2003. Over four CDs, most of Cash's biggest hits are covered, in addition to numerous traditional compositions Cash recorded versions of, and several collaborations with other known artists, including Rosanne Cash, U2 and Bob Dylan. In keeping with Cash's persona as the Man in Black, the data surface of the discs is black. In 2006, the set won the Grammy Award for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.It was certified Gold on 1/11/2006 by the R.I.A.A.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Artist Profile: Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1841-1919

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty, and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that "Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau."

Pierre-Auguste was the father of actor Pierre Renoir and filmmaker Jean Renoir.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France, the child of a working class family. As a boy, he worked in a porcelain factory where his drawing talents led to him being chosen to paint designs on fine china. He also painted hangings for overseas missionaries and decorations on fans before he enrolled in art school. During those early years, he often visited the Louvre to study the French master painters.

In 1862, he began studying art under Charles Gleyre in Paris. There he met Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, and Claude Monet. At times during the 1860s, he did not have enough money to buy paint. Although Renoir first started exhibiting paintings at the Paris Salon in 1864, recognition did not come for another ten years, due, in part, to the turmoil of the Franco-Prussian War.

During the Paris Commune in 1871, while he painted on the banks of the Seine River, some Communards thought he was a spy, and were about to throw him into the river when a leader of the Commune, Raoul Rigault, recognized Renoir as the man who had protected him on an earlier occasion.

In 1874, a ten-year friendship with Jules Le Cœur and his family ended, and Renoir lost not only the valuable support gained by the association, but a generous welcome to stay on their property near Fontainebleau and its scenic forest. This loss of a favorite painting location resulted in a distinct change of subjects.

Renoir experienced his initial acclaim when six of his paintings were hung in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. In the same year, two of his works were shown with Durand-Ruel in London.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Favorite Oscar Nominated Movies

Here is my list of Favorite Oscar Nominated Movies that were posted on my Facebook page throughout the month of February, 2011. Its not a totally complete list of my favorites (which can go on forever). There's so many movies that have been nominated throughout the years that are some of my favorites and then there are those I have yet to see. But I chose this list because they are some that I have watched more than once and continue to enjoy. Next time, I'm sure to have another list of great movies and commentary prepared that will added to this one.


Citizen Kane (1941) - A TRIBUTE TO CITIZEN KANE

Quite arguably, the greatest film of all time. It is the equivalent to the works of Shakespeare by which all modern writers owe a debt, “Citizen Kane” is the measure of film to which all modern directors of TV and Film have been influenced directly and indirectly. A film shrouded in controversy, director Orson Welles fought hard to get the film made despite opposition from a variety of enemies including American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, due to the fact the film was a semi-autobiographical take on his life. Hearing about the film being made enraged Hearst so much that he banned any word, review and ads of it in his papers and helped to persuade Hollywood film companies to make an offer to producers, RKO Pictures of $805,000 to destroy all prints of the film and burn the negative. Although Hearst's efforts to suppress it damaged the film's success at the time, the film is now inexorably connected to him. And yet, “Citizen Kane” endures. The first time I watched it was about 20 years ago after years of hearing from some movie fans how great it was. So I rented it, sat down and reminded myself, “OK. This was made in 1941.” With that perspective, I was blown away. I could see how revolutionary, at that time, this film came across. The cinematography was ahead of its time. I recently watched it on TCM a few months back and the restoration on the film looks great! I could even see clearly the reflection of one character’s face on a wood desk! If you have not seen the film itself, I would suggest you check it out. Most of all the movies and films that have been produced since its release can be traced to this highly recommended original. – Torrence King


It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” - “Hee Haw!” - “Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?” – These quotes, among others, are as timeless as the movie itself.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” was not as well received when it was released due to high production costs and stiff competition in 1946. It was also nominated for five Oscars without winning any. But, for some reason, in its re-release and countless airings on the then-new technology of television, it started to develop a life of its own and touching the hearts of many for generations to come. It is one of my favorite movies of all time and one of the few I know every bit of dialogue. Also, most of the humor in the film never gets old. It reminds me so much of an extended “Twilight Zone” episode with a little bit of heartfelt comedy and “Citizen Kane” thrown in for good measure with a more redemptive outcome for the main character. And, of course, who can forget the performances of James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell and Henry Travers and the magic of directing by Frank Capra. Quite possibly, along with “The Wizard of Oz”, the most widely enduring film of all time. – Torrence King


The Last Emperor (1987)

One of the great films from the 1980's. The true story of the last Emperor of China, a man born into a world where he is absolute ruler over all around him but a twist of fate and the tides of war lead to his eventual fall. – Torrence King


Million Dollar Baby (2004)

“Girlie, tough ain’t enough.” In my opinion, “Million Dollar Baby” is the best motion picture in the purest form of the medium produced during the past decade. I watched this expecting a “Cinderella” story on par with “Rocky” and every other fighter-down-on-his-luck-turned-champion. What I got was life lessons, deeper truths and a tragic ending. Director Clint Eastwood, who I’ve told friends I “hate” because he keep making great movies I watch and love, crafted yet another work of art. Eastwood continues to change our expectations for most of his movies produced during the past decade and “Million Dollar Baby” is a crowning achievement (so far) to his current cinematic artistry. The acting and dialogue banter between Eastwood and actress Hilary Swank are both top notch and funny and to carry the movie along are fundamental lessons of a boxer’s methods and life poetically delivered as narration by Morgan Freeman. – Torrence King


Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) - Trailer

Clark Gable's Fletcher Christian can only stand by so long as Charles Laughton's Captain Bligh mistreatment of officers on the HMS Bounty finally causes him to take action. After seeing this movie, I could care less about its historical accuracy. The acting is superb. Plus, its message of defiance in the midst of injustice resonated with audiences back then and continues to this day. I believe most of us have become a witness to those in leadership positions who let their power go way too far and one person, out of many, that will not stand for it any longer. – Torrence King


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

One of Jack Nicholson's greatest performances. I hadn't seen this since a broadcast of it years ago. Watching it a few months back, its amazing how many guys are in this movie that went on to become icons of TV and film. The matching of wits and wisdom between Nicholson's Randle McMurphy against Nurse Ratched played with subtle evilness by Louise Fletcher, is an engaging mental battle of epic proportions. – Torrence King


Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Surprisingly, this film did not win best picture the year it was nominated. That honor went to the less violent and even less impressive "Shakespeare In Love" (Which was OK but compared to this masterpiece...c'mon!) Director Steven Spielberg and company crafted the most realistic view of World War II the world had ever seen. Even I was shaken in the theater and thinking, "Damn, Now This is War!" And, again, Spielberg was snubbed that year. You can literally count how many times he along with Martin Scorsese have been snubbed versus how many times they actual won. ("Goodfellas" anyone?) The realism and popularity of "Saving Private Ryan" eventually led to the production of the equally, if not better, HBO World War II mini-series "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific" – Torrence King


Schindler's List - The 1993 American biographical drama film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. -

‎"Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire". I came to watching this movie because of the trailers, box office buzz and various scenes I saw on the Academy Awards the year it won the Oscar for Best Picture. When I did finally see it on a 2-tape VHS, afterward, I was a bit numb and tears did form. Director Steven Spielberg put his heart and soul into this film. Using all the techniques of storytelling, movie making and art to craft a testament to how one life can change many lives. Not only do we see how prejudice can drive a society to madness, we also see the scenes behind the darkness and are showed the lives of those who chose to hate versus those who chose to help. Plus, add the heartfelt theme music by John Williams and you have a cinematic masterpiece. – Torrence King


Star Wars (1977)

Quite literally the film that changed everything about movies since the time of its release in 1977. Sure there were other science fiction/action movies before like "The War of The Worlds", "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and "2001: A Space Odyssey", but nothing caught the imagination of the mass movie-going audience like "Star Wars" (and have yet to let go). Director George Lucas, took a huge gamble and it paid off. Influenced by classic comics and movies of space adventurers "Buck Rogers" and "Flash Gordon", whose stories relied primarily on the readers and/or viewers own imagination to carry the plot, Lucas created a whole universe of people and places that would surpass the popularity of most mythological and literary characters. The release of the movie in 1977 was at the right time when the future generation of current filmmakers and computer-tech kids would go see it (numerous times and, in a way, studying it over and over) and evenutally go on and create equally important films using the technology and visual effects Lucas and company pioneered. Without "Star Wars" there would be no Pixar's "Toy Story" and other great CGI animated films, "Tron", "Lord of The Rings Trilogy", "Spider-Man" movies, "Superman" movies, "X-Men" movies and the list goes on. – Torrence King


A Soldier's Story (1984)

“A Soldier’s Story” is an ensemble acting tour de force. Howard E. Rollins, Jr, Adolph Caesar, Denzel Washington, and William Allen Young all give performances of high caliber. To me, It is part-“Mutiny on The Bounty”, part-“Billy Budd” and part-“Full Metal Jacket” due to the fact it deals with an authoritative figure whose hate and jealousy causes him to treat his subordinates with malice, and especially the one subordinate who is popular with everyone and talented; things that he does not possess. When he is killed, there are complications to the investigation that does not seem to have a clear resolution. A great movie indeed. Plus, you get to see a young Denzel in one of his earliest motion picture roles. A sign on great things to come…. – Torrence King


Movie Poster: Inception - 2010

Inception - 2010


Movie Poster: Carlito's Way - 1993

Carlito's Way - 1993


Movie Poster: 3:10 to Yuma - 2007

3:10 To Yuma (2007)


Movie Poster: The Untouchables 1987

The Untouchables (1987)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Writer Profile: Langston Hughes 1902-1967

James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "the negro was in vogue" which was later paraphrased as "when Harlem was in vogue".

First published in The Crisis in 1921, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers", which became Hughes's signature poem, was collected in his first book of poetry The Weary Blues (1926). Hughes's life and work were enormously influential during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, alongside those of his contemporaries, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Richard Bruce Nugent, and Aaron Douglas. Except for McKay, they worked together also to create the short-lived magazine Fire!! Devoted to Younger Negro Artists.

 My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

 I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
 I danced in the Nile when I was old
 I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
 I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
 I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

from "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (1920),
 in The Weary Blues (1926)

Hughes and his contemporaries had different goals and aspirations than the black middle class. They criticized men who were known as the midwives of the Harlem Renaissance: W. E. B. Du Bois, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Alain LeRoy Locke, as being overly accommodating and assimilating eurocentric values and culture for social equality. Hughes and his fellows tried to depict the "low-life" in their art, that is, the real lives of blacks in the lower social-economic strata. They criticized the divisions and prejudices based on skin color within the black community.

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Album: Pink Moon - Nick Drake

Pink Moon is the third and final album by English musician Nick Drake. Released on February 25, 1972 It was recorded at midnight in two separate two-hour sessions, over two days in October 1971, featuring only Nick Drake's vocals and guitar, as well as some piano later overdubbed by Drake on the title track.

Initially, Pink Moon garnered a small amount of critical attention, but decades after Drake's death it received widespread public and critical acclaim. The music on Pink Moon is sparse and unadorned (especially in comparison to Drake's previous recordings), leading some to consider it to be the least accessible of his three albums, though it nevertheless continues to be thought of by many of his fans as his greatest work.

In 1999, the title track was used in "Milky Way", a Volkswagen Cabriolet commercial directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and lensed by Lance Acord, leading to a large increase in record sales, and a number-five placing for Pink Moon in's sales chart. In mid-2010, the "From The Morning" track was used in an AT&T "Rethinking Possible" commercial.

The cover of the album features an illustration by the partner of Drake's sister Gabrielle, Michael Trevithick.

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Writer Profile: Alex Haley

Alexander Murray Palmer Haley (August 11, 1921 – February 10, 1992) was an African-American writer. He is best known as the author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family and the coauthor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Haley was born in Ithaca, New York, on August 11, 1921, and was the oldest of three brothers and a sister. Haley lived with his family in Henning, Tennessee, before he returned to Ithaca with his family when he was five years old. Haley's father was a professor of agriculture at Alabama A&M University. The younger Haley always spoke proudly of his father and the obstacles of racism he had overcome. Alex Haley was enrolled at Alcorn State University at age 15. Two years later he returned to his parents to inform them of his withdrawal from college. Simon Haley felt that Alex needed discipline and growth and convinced his son to enlist in the military when he turned 18. On May 24, 1939, Alex Haley began his twenty-year enlistment with the Coast Guard.

He enlisted as a mess attendant and then became a Petty Officer Third Class in the rate of Steward, one of the few rates open to African Americans at that time. His Coast Guard service number was 212-548. It was during his service in the Pacific theater of operations that Haley taught himself the craft of writing stories. It is said that during his enlistment he was often paid by other sailors to write love letters to their girlfriends. He talked of how the greatest enemy he and his crew faced during their long sea voyages wasn't the Japanese but boredom.

After World War II, Haley was able to petition the Coast Guard to allow him to transfer into the field of journalism, and by 1949 he had become a Petty Officer First Class in the rating of Journalist. He later advanced to Chief Petty Officer and held this grade until his retirement from the Coast Guard in 1959. He was the first Chief Journalist in the Coast Guard, the rating having been expressly created for him in recognition of his literary ability.

After his retirement from the Coast Guard, Haley began his writing career, and eventually became a senior editor for Reader's Digest.

Haley conducted the first interview for Playboy magazine. The interview, with Miles Davis, appeared in the September 1962 issue. In the interview, Davis candidly spoke about his thoughts and feelings on racism and it was that interview that set the tone for what became a significant feature of the magazine. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Playboy Interview with Haley was the longest he ever granted to any publication. Throughout the 1960s, Haley was responsible for some of the magazine's most notable interviews, including an interview with American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell, who agreed to meet with Haley only after Haley, in a phone conversation, assured him that he was not Jewish. Haley remained calm and professional during the interview, even though Rockwell kept a handgun on the table throughout it. Haley also interviewed Muhammad Ali, who spoke about changing his name from Cassius Clay. Other interviews include Jack Ruby's defense attorney Melvin Belli, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jim Brown, Johnny Carson, and Quincy Jones. He completed a memoir of Malcolm X just weeks before Malcolm X was assassinated in February 1965.

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Writer Profile: Jules Verne (1828-1905)

Jules Gabriel Verne (French pronunciation: [ʒyl vɛʁn]; February 8, 1828 – March 24, 1905) was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised. He is the second most translated author in the world (after Agatha Christie). Some of his books have also been made into live-action and animated films and television shows. Verne is often referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction", a title sometimes shared with Hugo Gernsback and H. G. Wells.

Jules Verne was born in Nantes, in France, to Pierre Verne, an attorney, and his wife, Sophie Allote de la Fuÿe. Jules spent his early years at home with his parents in the bustling harbor city of Nantes. The family spent summers in a country house just outside the city, in Brains on the banks of the Loire River. Here Jules and his brother Paul would often rent a boat for one franc a day. The sight of the many ships navigating the river sparked Jules's imagination, as he describes in the autobiographical short story "Souvenirs d'Enfance et de Jeunesse". At the age of nine, Jules and Paul, of whom he was very fond, were sent to boarding school at the Saint Donatien College (Petit séminaire de Saint-Donatien). As a child, he developed a great interest in travel and exploration, a passion he showed as a writer of adventure stories and science fiction. His interest in writing often cost him progress in other subjects.

At the boarding school, Verne studied Latin, which he used in his short story "Le Mariage de Monsieur Anselme des Tilleuls" in the mid 1850s. One of his teachers may have been the French inventor Brutus de Villeroi, professor of drawing and mathematics at the college in 1842, and who later became famous for creating the US Navy's first submarine, the USS Alligator. De Villeroi may have inspired Verne's conceptual design for the Nautilus in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, although no direct exchanges between the two men have been recorded.

Verne's second French biographer, his grand-niece Marguerite Allotte de la Fuÿe, formulated the rumor that Verne was so fascinated with adventure at an early age that he stowed away on a ship bound for the West Indies, but that Jules's voyage was cut short when he found his father waiting for him at the next port.

After completing his studies at the lycée, Verne went to Paris to study law. Around 1848, in conjunction with Michel Carré, he began writing libretti for operettas. For some years, his attentions were divided between the theater and work, but some travelers' stories which he wrote for the Musée des familles revealed to him his true talent: the telling of delightfully extravagant voyages and adventures to which cleverly prepared scientific and geographical details lent an air of verisimilitude.

When Verne's father discovered that his son was writing rather than studying law, he promptly withdrew his financial support. Verne was forced to support himself as a stockbroker, which he hated despite being somewhat successful at it. During this period, he met Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, who offered him writing advice.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Profile Playlist: Nina Simone (1933-2003)

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), better known by her stage name Nina Simone (/ˈniːnə sɨˈmoʊn/), was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

Born the sixth child of a preacher's family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist as a child. Her musical path changed direction after she was denied a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone was later told by someone working at Curtis that she was rejected because she was black. She then began playing in a small club in Philadelphia to fund her continuing musical education to become a classical pianist and was required to sing as well. She was approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and her rendition of "I Loves You Porgy" became a smash hit in the United States in 1958. Over the length of her career, Simone recorded more than 40 albums, mostly between 1958 — when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue — and 1974.

Her musical style arose from a fusion of gospel and pop songs with classical music, in particular with influences from her first inspiration, Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied with her expressive jazz-like singing in her characteristic low tenor. She injected as much of her classical background into her music as possible to give it more depth and quality, as she felt that pop music was inferior to classical. Her intuitive grasp on the audience-performer relationship was gained from a unique background of playing piano accompaniment for church revivals and sermons regularly from the early age of six years.

After 20 years of performing, she became involved in the civil rights movement and the direction of her life shifted once again. Simone's music was highly influential in the fight for equal rights in the US.


Nina Simone - Sinnerman (full length version)


Nina Simone - Feelin' Good


Nina Simone - Wild Is The Wind


Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue (Live)


Nina Simone - Here Comes The Sun (Francois K. Remix)


Movie Poster: Drive


Movie Poster: The Shining

The Shining


Poster: The Bodyguard - Edgar Ascensão

The Bodyguard - Poster by Edgar Ascensão


Profile: Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" (now Edison, New Jersey) by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large teamwork to the process of invention, and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.

Edison is the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.

His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison originated the concept and implementation of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world. His first power station was on Manhattan Island, New York.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Playlist: Heart and Soul - 100 Favorite R&B and Soul Love Songs

Don't forget love is just music to your soul, when you listen to it, you dance in heaven.

Here are 100 my favorite R&B and Soul Love Songs. Some older, some recent but the sentimental value remains timeless. Set the night and the mood for love......

Song / Artist - Listed Alphabetically: 

1. 7 Days - Craig David
2. A Long Walk - Jill Scott
3. Always and Forever – Heatwave
4. Anything - Jaheim
5. Anything (To Get Your Attention) - Van Hunt
6. Ascension (Dont Ever Wonder) – Maxwell
7. At Your Best (You Are Loved) - Aaliyah
8. Brown Sugar - D’Angelo
9. By Your Side - Sade
10. Call Me Come Back Home - Al Green
11. Call Me When You Get This - Corrine Bailey Rae
12. Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe - Barry White
13. Cherish The Day – Sade
14. Chocolate Factory - R Kelly
15. Close The Door - Teddy Pendergrass
16. Come On Over To My Place - Teddy Pendagrass
17. Come Over - Aaliyah and Tank
18. Differences – Ginuwine
19. Don't you forget it - Glenn Lewis
20. Dream Girl - R Kelly
21. Dreamworld - Robin Thicke
22. Each Day Gets Better - John Legend
23. Ebony Eyes - Rick James and Smokey Robinson
24. Everybody Here Wants You - Kenny Lattimore
25. Finding My Way Back – Jaheim


Come Over - Aaliyah and Tank


26. For The Love of You - Isley Brothers
27. Forever More - R Kelly
28. Fortunate - Maxwell
29. Here I Am Come and Take Me - Al Green
30. I Can't Stop Loving You - Kem
31. I Couldn’t Love You More – Sade
32. I Love You – Faith
33. I Want to Dance Tonight Lucy Pearl
34. I Want You - Marvin Gaye
35. I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby - Barry White
36. I’m Still In Love With You – Al Green
37. Ignition - R Kelly
38. In Those Jeans – Ginuwine
39. Is This Love - Bob Marley
40. It’s All About Our Love – Sade
41. Kiss of Life – Sade
42. Lay With You - El Debarge w/ Faith Evans
43. Let’s Stay Together - Al Green
44. Lets Get It On - Marvin Gaye
45. Lifetime – Maxwell
46. Lost Without You - Robin Thicke
47. Love - Musiq Soulchild
48. Love and Happiness - Al Green
49. Love Ballad – LTD
50. Love Letter - R. Kelly


I Want You - Marvin Gaye


51. Love No Limit - Mary J Blige
52. Love TKO - Teddy Pendergrass
53. Love Won't Let Me Wait - Major Harris
54. Lovers Rock – Sade
55. Mary Jane (All Night Long) - Mary J. Blige
56. More Than a Woman – Aaliyah
57. Never Never Gonna Give You Up - Barry White
58. Night and Day - Al B Sure
59. No Letting Go - Wayne Wonder
60. No Ordinary Love – Sade
61. No Woman No Cry - Bob Marley
62. Oh Me, Oh My (Dreams in My Arms) - Al Green
63. Promise - Ciara
64. Reasons - Earth Wind and Fire
65. Rocksteady - Remy Shand
66. Say What - Donnell Jones
67. Seconds of Pleasure - Van Hunt
68. Secrets - Alicia Keys
69. Sensual Seduction - Snoop Dogg
70. Sex Therapy - Robin Thicke
71. So In Love - Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton
72. Softest Lips - Eric Roberson
73. Song for You - Donny Hathaway
74. Stay for a While - Angie Stone ft Anthony Hamilton
75. Step In The Name of Love – R. Kelly


Seconds of Pleasure - Van Hunt


76. Stingy – Ginuwine
77. Sure Thing - Miguel
78. Sweet Thing - Rufus and Chaka Kahn
79. Sweetest love - Robin Thicke
80. Take A Message - Remy Shand
81. Tell me all about it (House Mix) - Natalie Cole
82. The Way - Jill Scott
83. The Way I Feel - Remy Shand
84. The Way You Move - Kenny G (Ft. Earth Wind And Fire)
85. Turn Off The Lights - Teddy Pendergrass
86. Turn Your Lights Down Low - Bob Marley
87. U Got It Bad - Usher
88. Unthinkable - Alicia Keys
89. War of The Hearts – Sade
90. We Belong Together - Mariah Carey
91. You Are My Lady - Freddie Jackson
92. You Are My Starship - Norman Connors
93. You Belong To Me - Anita Baker
94. You Complete Me - Keysha Cole
95. You Dont Know My Name - Alicia Keys
96. You Give Good Love – Whitney Houston
97. You Know That I Love You - Donnell Jones
98. You Make Me Feel Brand New - The Stylistics
99. You’re My First My Last My Everything - Barry White
100. Your Love is King – Sade


You Complete Me - Keysha Cole


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Profile Playlist: John Williams – Film Composer, Conductor

John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is an American composer, conductor, and pianist. In a career spanning almost six decades, he has composed some of the most recognizable film scores in the history of motion pictures, including the Star Wars saga, Jaws, Superman, the Indiana Jones films, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Hook, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, Home Alone and the first three Harry Potter films. He has had a long association with director Steven Spielberg, composing the music for all but two of Spielberg's major feature films.

Other notable works by Williams include theme music for four Olympic Games, NBC Sunday Night Football, the NBC Nightly News, the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, the DreamWorks Pictures production logo, and the television series Lost in Space. Williams has also composed numerous classical concerti, and he served as the principal conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra from 1980 to 1993; he is now the orchestra's conductor laureate.

Williams has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven BAFTA Awards, and 21 Grammy Awards. With 47 Academy Award nominations, Williams is the second most nominated person, after Walt Disney. John Williams was honored with the prestigious Richard Kirk award at the 1999 BMI Film and TV Awards. The award is given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to film and television music. Williams was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.


STAR WARS (Main Theme) – Conducted Live - John Williams 


Superman - Intro Theme Song with Jor El Intro (voice: Marlon Brando) – Conducted by John Williams


Star Wars: The Imperial March – John Willaims


JFK Soundtrack: Prologue – Conducted by John Williams


Schindler's List Theme (violin solo by Itzhak Perlman) – Conducted by John Williams


Movie Poster: Tron Legacy


Movie Poster: The Birds - Alfred Hitchcock


Artist Profile: Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

Norman Percevel Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978) was a 20th-century American painter and illustrator. His works enjoy a broad popular appeal in the United States for their reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine for more than four decades.[1] Among the best-known of Rockwell's works are the Willie Gillis series, Rosie the Riveter (although his Rosie was reproduced less than others of the day), Saying Grace (1951), The Problem We All Live With, and the Four Freedoms series. He is also noted for his work for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA); producing covers for their publication Boys' Life, calendars, and other illustrations.

In 1943, during the Second World War, Rockwell painted the Four Freedoms series, which was completed in seven months and resulted in his losing 15 pounds. The series was inspired by a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, in which he described four principles for universal rights: Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, and Freedom from Fear. The paintings were published in 1943 by The Saturday Evening Post. The United States Department of the Treasury later promoted war bonds by exhibiting the originals in 16 cities. Rockwell himself considered "Freedom of Speech" to be the best of the four. That same year a fire in his studio destroyed numerous original paintings, costumes, and props.

Shortly after the war, Rockwell was contacted by writer Elliott Caplin, brother of cartoonist Al Capp, with the suggestion that the three of them should make a daily comic strip together, with Caplin and his brother writing and Rockwell drawing. King Features Syndicate is reported to have promised a $1,000/week deal, knowing that a Capp-Rockwell collaboration would gain strong public interest. However, the project was ultimately aborted as it turned out that Rockwell, known for his perfectionism as an artist, could not deliver material as fast as required of him for a daily comic strip.

During the late 1940s, Norman Rockwell spent the winter months as artist-in-residence at Otis College of Art and Design. Students occasionally were models for his Saturday Evening Post covers. In 1949, Rockwell donated an original Post cover, "April Fool," to be raffled off in a library fund raiser.

In 1959, his wife Mary died unexpectedly, and Rockwell took time off from his work to grieve. It was during this break that he and his son Thomas produced his autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, which was published in 1960. The Post printed excerpts from this book in eight consecutive issues, the first containing Rockwell's famous Triple Self-Portrait.

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